Watch our young and growing family as we daily live out our faith and strive to give honor and glory to the Savior. You will also see photos of our family...Stop in often to see what we are up to!
Since today is so rainy, it's a perfect day to be lazy...which means updating all of you on what has been going on in our lives.
On Saturday, Dan and I celebrated our 6th anniversary! Crazy how the time flies. Dan's parents watched the children on Friday so that we could go out. We went to Romney to eat at Mario's (yumm!!) then spent part of the afternoon in thrift shops. Who would have ever dreamed we would find that enjoyable?! The most spectacular find of the day was a crib! We spent a couple of months looking for an affordable crib and it just wasn't happening. So, we finally gave up and decided that this was something that God would provide in his own time. If this baby was meant to have her own bed, then God was going to have to provide...and we trusted that He would. So, in the back of the Hampshire County Helping Hands Society thrift shop lay a beautiful maple crib...complete...for a grand total of $5! The hardest part was loading the pieces into the Geo! So, now Aaron has a new crib and the white one he was using is set up in the girls' room. We are so thankful!
Tomorrow, I have another ultrasound. I mentioned that at the last one, the baby didn't want to lay still for very long. Well, apparently, she didn't lay still long enough to get good enough views of the umbilical cord and spine. So, we'll get to take another peek at her to make sure that all is well.
We are almost completely finished with the kindergarten curriculum we had chosen last year around this time and I am so thankful to be almost done! Although the curriculum is good, it's just too much I think to use one curriculum for all subjects for an entire year. We are all quite bored with it. We have decided to homeschool year round so that as things come up throughout the year and we have to take time off, there is no need to feel guilty or rush to catch up. So, we are moving on to some hand me down curriculum, a little free stuff off the internet, and some workbooks. Variety is the spice of life, right?
The first Thursday in May is our homeschool group's end of year showcase. So, it's about time to start working on Alex's project. What did he choose? He wants to do a display about the battle of New Market! Not really my thing, but that's the beauty of homeschooling!
Easter is right around the corner which has us all thinking about the reasons WHY we celebrate. How humbling to think of the God of the universe dying...for ME...because He loves ME! I am so unworthy! I hope that each of us is able to concentrate on that and block out the distractions of eggs and bunnies and candy and pretty dresses...Happy Easter!
Please pray for us as we are recovering from illness. All of us have been sick, but here's the breakdown for the children...
Aaron-double ear infection
Alex and Elizabeth-pneumonia
I think we are on the mend now, but we would still appreciate your prayers.
Today we decided to celebrate Aaron's first birthday two days early. We got him a water table and once we saw the weather for the next couple of days, we decided we should take advantage of the favorable weather today. He loved it! I'm uploading photos tonight (as well as ones from Alex's birthday two and a half weeks ago). Enjoy! Gotta especially love the photos of him covered in cupcake!
But before we could enjoy the cupcakes, Aaron decided to prove his age and take his first (consecutive) steps! Five to be exact! Yay, Aaron!
Our new little one can now be called by her name...Emma. We are so excited! Everything looked good. Baby is measuring a little over a week further along than I thought I was, so we'll see about a due date, but it is so nice not to call this little one "it" anymore! She is definitely an active little thing and would hardly cooperate well enough for the tech to get all the measurements she needed. We got to count her fingers and toes, saw all chambers of her heart, and both hemispheres of her brain, along with a perfectly formed spine. We are so thankful that all seems well and that we got to experience the joy of watching her moving around, sucking on her fingers, crossing and uncrossing tiny ankles, and on and on! What a blessing. The sonographer told me that by their measurements, Emma weighs in at a whopping 11 ounces. So tiny and yet so complete! God is so good! After the ultrasound, we celebrated at D'Atri and picked out our coming home outfit for her. Alex and Elizabeth are already feeling connected to her, although Elizabeth is a little hesitant about not being the only little girl anymore. If you think about it, offer up a prayer that this transition will be as easy as possible on her. I was going to upload photos from the CD they gave us at the ultrasound, but it's blank. Not sure what happened there. Anyway, we have some paper ones, so maybe we can get them scanned onto a CD at a drugstore or something here soon. Dan says he would rather not look at them, because they are "kinda creepy" looking and it is true that they don't exactly look like we hope our precious Emma looks at birth, but a miracle nonetheless!
Tomorrow is the big day...our ultrasound. At just shy of 19 weeks, the sonographer should have a pretty good view of whether our newest addition is a prince or a princess. I can't wait. Maybe then we will be able to lay aside the fights between Alex and Elizabeth over what this baby is! I go back and forth in my mind about which I would rather have, but I know regardless of the outcome of the ultrasound, I am going to be thrilled. That's just the way it works. After the ultrasound, we'll go shopping to pick out the outfit we'll bring him or her home in! Then, we'll probably stop and pick up the last few things we need for our little at-home party for Alex's birthday on Friday. Although we are doing a Big Birthday Bash in May, we can't just let their actual birthdays go by without recognition, so we are doing dinner (pizza was Alex's choice), cake and ice cream, and presents from Mommy and Daddy and siblings. Alex is thrilled about it, especially since I've had presents wrapped on the back "porch" for weeks. He has been asking about them every few days, but now it's almost continual. He wants to know how long till he can open them and what time of day he can open them,... The only thing he doesn't know is that I have three more packages hidden in my room because they are in bags and putting them on the porch would be a big mistake! Silly kiddo, just wait till he figures that part out. I cannot wait to give him his new shoes. That may sound silly, but he hasn't had a brand new pair of sneakers in eons and the three pair of used ones he has really just aren't cutting it. I got a pair of Nikes on clearance at Gabe's for $12 and I know he is going to be thrilled! It's so hard to believe that our precious little firstborn is going to be 6!!! Absolutely crazy!
I'll update you all tomorrow after the "big reveal"...unless of course this baby has already learned modesty!
This year, we have decided to try something new for Birthday Parties. Last year, we realized that we, along with our guests, were completely burned out after two birthday parties...not to mention three this year or four next year. So, we are going to do one all day food and fun party that we are calling the First Annual Leonard Family Big Birthday Bash! We are excited about this because we are still going to be able to celebrate another year with each of our precious children and it will also be a lot less stressful for us and all of those who wish to celebrate with us. We have decided on the first Saturday in May and it is going to be at Shawnee State Park. (We had Elizabeth's birthday party there last year and it was very enjoyable). So, consider this your first invitation and let others know as well. Hope to see you there!
It seems each day I think of several things I want to share with you all...silly stories, cute sayings, "epiphanies", etc. Of course, I haven't been diligent to write those things down and when I do sit to write a post, I have no idea what I want to share and so once again you'll get a brief overview of what is going on in our lives.
School~Our school routine has changed lately, along with our vision for what we want from our school days. There seems to be much that we are missing out on with this curriculum and I am also convicted that he is in KINDERGARTEN. Do we really need a rigid schedule? Will he miss out on all of the natural learning that takes place at this age if we put "school" into a neat little box? It was never my intention to copy public school at home and yet that seems to be what I have been doing. I am so thankful and excited for the new vision we have and I am looking forward to planning out a more complete, but also more relaxed homeschool curriculum for next year. I recently bought a book called Home Learning Year by Year and I have been so inspired by it. It tells exactly what the "norm" is to learn each year through school and that has been amazing to me because although we are doing a lot of it, we have missed the simple things...the natural things. Alex is enjoying being more laid back with school. And this coming week will introduce some new concepts to him that are outside or our neat little boxed curriculum.
Pass It On~Our "business" with Pass It On has really picked up lately and that has been a tremendous blessing! Each time we are lacking something to pass on to a family, it has come through in miraculous ways. We are still accepting donations if any of you are planning on purging your closets! There are still some specific needs that we are waiting to be able to meet, but I am confident that the items we need will be donated at exactly the right time. I love the stories of George Muller. For those who don't know, he was called to begin an orphanage with absolutely nothing. When he had a need, he would pray about it without every making the need known to anyone else and without asking for help. His diaries record over 250,000 answered prayers. I feel sure that God began this ministry of Pass It On and so He will provide what it needs!
Family~We are all feeling well...Aaron's ear infection seems to be gone and my morning sickness is getting better each day. I'm not sure when I will be able to say that I am back to my normal, but it's getting there. Today I am 13 weeks along in this pregnancy which is such a joy because it puts us pretty much out of the woods in terms of risk of miscarriage. Also, I can tell a huge difference in my hormone levels. I woke up yesterday feeling like I finally had my JOY back! What an awesome feeling and one I have been missing for so many weeks. A little bump is beginning to show and I am so excited about this pregnancy. Dan is thrilled to finally have the Geo on the road and I am thrilled for the reduction in the cost of fuel for our family. Soon, our income tax refund will be here and hopefully we will also have the truck running. We feel so blessed to be able to have three vehicles and to have them all on our own without any debt. Yes, our newest car is 16 years old and our oldest is 25 years old, but they are ours! Now, if we can just keep them running... Can you believe Aaron is trying to walk? How did that happen?! He is getting to be such a big boy and he has a huge personality! Elizabeth has officially changed her name to "Princess Gigi"...silly little girl. She parades through the house talking about being God's little Princess and wearing huge my little pony slippers. We all think she is adorable-at least until things happen like she tells us that she can't clean her room because she is a princess. Alex is showing so much maturity and is constantly looking forward to the future. He knows who he wants to marry and has a plan to get him there. He is so much the epitome of a first born!
Well, I'm off to try to get some of the recent donations to Pass It On put away. Daniel should have the garage all warmed up by now.
Oh! My most recent frugal purchase... I bought a $2 cloth bag at Kids Korner and was able to fill it with clothes from the clearance racks for free. That made 21 items of clothing (mostly maternity tops and summer shirts for Aaron) for $2. And when I bring the bag back in, I get 20% off all regularly priced clothing and shoes. By my calculations, that means that the next time I get a pair of hot pink Nike tennis shoes for Elizabeth regularly priced at $3.75, I'll only have to pay $3!
The morning sickness has subsided quite a bit and I am so thankful for it. Thank you all so much for the words of encouragement you have shared! They mean a lot.
Aaron has a nasty little ear infection right now and the others aren't feeling too great either. I am hoping it doesn't last too long.
School is going fairly well. We had our mid-year portfolio review and it went nicely... a few suggestions of things that could be added or changed which I was grateful to hear. It's also a good feeling to know that we are on the right track. We took a sick day today but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things tomorrow.
If this is choppy, blame it on my brain being asleep already...
Once again, it has been a long time since I posted. This is mainly just because of the morning sickness. I spent Thursday in the hospital for dehydration. When I came home, I felt AMAZING! Unfortunately that feeling didn't last. I am comforted knowing that the morning sickness won't last forever. Usually by 12 weeks I am feeling at least okay and that is only 2 weeks away. Dan has been amazing through all of this, but he is getting tired, too. We are all ready to move on to that part of a pregnancy where all I want to do is clean...and my house definitely needs it. We were so blessed that the grandparents kept Alex and Elizabeth for Thursday and over night through part of the day on Friday. It gave us a much needed break. And Friday we even had a date...at the laundromat, but a date nonetheless.
This past week, we also bought a "new" car...only 19 years old. It's a little Geo Metro that is in pretty good condition considering its age. Hopefully we will get it on the road soon and be able to save some gas money and maybe even prolong the life of our slowly dying van. I'll try to get a picture of the "beast" up on here soon. I know you are all holding your breath.
The coming week is going to be crazy! We have an OB appointment on Monday, Aaron has a doctor's appointment on Tuesday along with homeschool group, then I'll spend the next two days preparing for our homeschool evaluation on Friday. I can't wait for life to slow down...wait, does that ever happen?
I am asking everyone I know to keep an eye out for someone getting rid of a crib and mattress...or willing to loan one to us. Aaron isn't going to be anywhere ready to graduate out of a crib when this little one comes along. A loaner would be great because we may only need it for a few months. Let me know if you hear of anything.
School-Since morning sickness has set in, school has sort of taken a back seat and we are just beginning to get back into a routine...I suppose we'll be doing school over the holidays while everyone else is taking a break. We are currently working through our thirteenth unit (the halfway point-yay). This unit is the Cc Cow unit. Thankfully by now we are into this curriculum enough that I don't have to focus on some of the things that I did in the beginning and that makes it a little easier. I wish we had more time to work on school, but I also know that there are seasons in life and this is a time when school just isn't the number one thing, but it will be again soon.
Family-We have all been doing pretty well apart from the normal pregnancy issues with me and common colds for the rest of the family. The children are anxious for Christmas to come and are enjoying counting it down each day. We are also almost ready for Christmas which makes it alot easier to enjoy the season.
Baby-We had an ultrasound yesterday and were a little surprised to find out that we aren't quite as far along as we had thought based on my last cycle. Apparently since I am nursing, those things aren't as accurate in determining the dates of a pregnancy. They told us yesterday that I was 7 weeks and 3 days along, which gives me a due date of July 30th. We're okay with this because that gives us another month with Aaron as the baby. The only downside is that it means I have at least another four and a half weeks of being sick. I could stand to do without that!
I hope you are all enjoying the season and are feeling peace. We love you all. God Bless!
Tomorrow (about 5 and a half hours to be exact) will be Thanksgiving. Where do I even begin to name the things I am thankful for? To sit and think of it all, I feel completely overwhelmed! I am so undeserving and yet I have been so richly blessed. Right now, I am "resting" because Aaron didn't sleep last night. Oh, but I am thankful for the time we had in the sweet silence of the night. He is growing so quickly-he turned 8 months old yesterday-and I would like to memorize the way he is right now, because tomorrow it will be gone. I look at Alex who is so grown up for a child of 5 and I am thankful for the time that I am able to spend with him and Elizabeth on a daily basis. I couldn't imagine leaving him at school each day or her at day care. This "job" is so fulfilling. Elizabeth is almost two and a half and is part baby and part big girl. I watch her play and I am so thankful for her dreams. She plays Mommy and it's so good to see her striving toward that role. Daniel will be 25 tomorrow and I don't know what I'd do without him. He has become such a godly man. He has such a heart for us as his family and I am so thankful for the way that he puts us first. There are other jobs he could find that would yield a bigger paycheck, but he has chosen us over that! I am so thankful for his vision. And here I sit in my warm house with water running to fill a bathtub and wipe the dirt from a sticky little face while Dan does dishes in the kitchen. My belly is full and tomorrow will be overly full. I am so thankful. And yet I know that not everyone lives like this. So I encourage you to be thankful tomorrow and also to offer up a prayer for those who don't have as much to be thankful for. And of course, above all of these things, be thankful for Jesus. If we have nothing but salvation to be thankful for, we are certainly more blessed than we deserve.
Attached is a photo of Alex and Elizabeth praying in our living room tonight. Alex decided that he needed to pray for another baby and led Elizabeth in a prayer for it, as well. So precious and I know that God hears the prayer of a child. I am so convicted by their faith. They never wonder if God hears their prayer or if He is going to answer it the "right" way...they just know! I also just added photos from Thursday's homeschool outdoor education day at New Life Bible Camp.
I was sitting in the living room this evening thinking about how we'll squeeze the Christmas tree in this year when it hit me...I am content. That might not seem like a big thing, but it certainly is for me. When Alex was a baby, our living room was twice the size that it is now and I can remember thinking that it was so small. How would we ever fit more than the three of us in it at one time? Now, we manage all five of us in our tiny living room fine. One reason is certainly that my housekeeping has improved...GREATLY. Another is that I don't hold on to "things" nearly as much as I did then. But mostly, it's because we have a God who loves us and hears our prayers. I wasted three years of my life wishing....always dreaming of something more or different than what I had. Then, I came to the conclusion that God wanted me to be thankful for what He had provided and content with it. So, I began to pray for Him to help me to be content. Slowly, my heart became thankful for this little house, for Dan's job that doesn't pay enough for us to be middle income americans, for my position in life, etc. I don't know when it happened exactly, but as my heart became thankful, I became content. Now, there is nowhere else I would rather be than right here. I used to think that my longings to be somewhere else doing something else were evidence that God had other plans for me...a higher purpose. Now, I think that if God wants you to be somewhere or do something different, that he does call you, but that He desires for us to be content where we are until He provides the way for that change to happen. Will we always be here? Will we always have a little living room? I don't have the answer to that (although I know the One who does) but I do know that wherever I am and whatever God calls us to, I have the ability through Him to be content.
I just survived an evening without Daniel. Most of the time, I don't at all mind being by myself with the children, but bedtimes are usually a group effort in our home. Daniel is so good about helping and he is so compassionate with me...understanding that by the end of the day I am too tired to do it all myself and so when he is gone at bedtime, I miss him terribly. So do the kids who asked about a million times where Daddy was tonight. He was able to work 2-10 pm today instead of his usual overnight shift and I am thankful for it because too often I sleep without him. Soon he will be home and very tired, I'm sure.
This weekend was revival at church and what we got to attend of it was really good. We missed the end of Friday and Saturday's services because of Daniel going to work and this morning, Aaron was pretty sick so we skipped out. He is still not doing too great, so I suppose we'll be calling the doctor in the morning. I have a hunch it's an ear infection. He has been so grumpy and just not himself. It's so heartbreaking to see your little one being miserable. It's beginning to be that time of year, though.
Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, as well. Dan is surprising Alex with a short fishing trip in the morning. Then, we'll straighten up the house, do school, and head for PA for a few days with family. This will be the first time for me to pack up all of our homeschool things and take them along. Usually we just have a few days of double work when we get home from a trip like this, but this time we are going to be gone from Monday through Thursday afternoon and Alex has been doing SO WELL in school that I am afraid to take a break and have him lose everything he has finally "Gotten" in the last few days. So, we'll be doing school in another location. Hopefully it goes well. Thursday we are doing a homeschool day at a local-ish camp about weather and Daniel is actually going to get to come with us. We are all excited about it, but Dan and I are probably even more excited about it than Alex is. We are so thankful for the opportunities available to homeschool families now. If we had been doing this twenty years ago, there is no way we would have had the support we have now.
So all that to say...We're still busy! Imagine that! Do you think it will ever end?
I remember being little and wondering why I couldn't help when I was sure I was quite big enough and now I shoo my children away when I can do it faster myself. I remember wanting to spend every minute talking to my mom and now I send my children to play when I need a minute of quiet. I remember asking for mommy and daddy to play with me and hearing that they were too busy and now I say that far too often myself. I remember thinking that there could never be enough baby dolls and now I toss them in a heap in Elizabeth's bedroom. I remember taking time to listen to the birds while playing at my swingset and wondering why no one else could hear them and now I can't remember the last time I sat and just listened. I remember loving play doh and wondering why Mom couldn't stand it and now I grumble every time I scrape it from the kitchen floor.
Turns out I may not be the mommy I always wanted to be. Lord, help me to make time for the important things.
I remember saying I'd never be like my mom and now when I look in the mirror I see her face. I remember thinking that my children would never have to go without the things I went without (like a my size Barbie) and now I realize my parents got it right. I remember wanting to have money enough that I never had to worry and now I am thankful for what God provides for our family but I am more thankful for the people in our family. I remember little things like wanting a dryer and now I hang my clothes out to dry. I remember criticizing my parents for always doing things the hard way and now I make clothes and use cloth diapers and I want to do all of those other "hard" things because they are worth it.
No, I'm not the mommy I always wanted to be. Lord, I thank you.
Tomorrow we are going to be starting unit 10 of our homeschool curriculum! Ww Water. I'm really not as excited about this unit, but I think that's okay because there is a lot of other stuff going on this week. Tuesday is homeschool group and Friday through Sunday is our church's fall revival. Plus I have some projects around the house I need to get done. So if school is just maybe a little bit shorter through this week, I think we will somehow manage.
We are just wrapping up a busy weekend. Thankfully, this busy-ness wasn't the crazy kind, but the fulfilling kind. Usually when Daniel has a weekend off work, we are busy running around and going places, seeing people, and those kinds of things. This weekend, though, we were able to actually get some things done at home to get the house ready for winter and today we were able to really rest on a Sabbath. That is so big for us! And the rest has done each of us some good. I am feeling better than I have in quite a while and I think a big part of that is just being at home. I love to be here! I am so blessed to have the privilege of being a homemaker and then to be able to spend times like this weekend with my family at home is so wonderful!
Hopefully this will make sense. For some reason, I am unspeakably tired tonight and although the screen is swimming in front of me, I have decided to update because there just never seems to be enough time to do it when I am coherent! So, here is what has been going on in our lives lately.
School-We are working on our O-o-octopus unit. I have learned a lot through this one because I had never really looked into Octopi before. This is our 9th unit which means that we are over a third of the way through our kindergarten curriculum. I guess that means I can stop panicking when we miss a day. I don't know what we'll do if we finish early for sure, though I am thinking that we will work through some first grade materials that aren't from the curriculum we are going to use next year to get a head start on the skills. I am afraid of just finishing and waiting for next August because I am positive Alex will forget most of what he learned with that long of a break.
Sewing-I actually made some good progress this week on my sewing "wish list". I got some Christmas gifts done for Elizabeth (a diaper bag, baby carrier, baby blanket, and little mommy apron...can you tell she thinks she is all grown up?) and also managed to make her a nightgown. I have the fabric on hand to make her another nightgown, but Alex is wanting pajamas so that is next on my "list". I also found a pattern for a modest nursing dress that I actually like...finally. Now I just have to bring myself to spend $15 on it!
Other news-Aaron has decided that he doesn't need to sleep in the daytime anymore, either. That crabby little guy! All my babies do eventually sleep, so there is hope...just probably not anytime soon! Elizabeth today decided that Aaron was suitable for a chair and actually sat on him! I have no idea why she thought that was a good idea, but she was shocked that she was in trouble for it. Time outs so far have very little meaning for her beside the sheer fact that she doesn't like being alone. I guess that's the way it goes with two year olds..is she only two, really? On the note of good phases, all three kids have been so good with eating their meals lately! Who can complain about that? I am amazed daily at them...how could I live without living like I do? It is such a joy...oh, and a little crazy, too! Another great but very random thing-We found cheap pacifiers at Roses that Aaron likes just as well as those expensive MAM ones!
The "ministry"-You guys have been no help in coming up with a name for this thing! I look at the visit counter and I know you are looking at the site and yet...no help! At any rate, Dan has been making some good progress in getting our shed cleaned out so that we can clean the second bay of the garage for clothing. Also, a friend of ours has offered us some used aluminum roofing to side the shed with. Right now, it's just particle board so metal siding will be a blessing! We are so thankful for the generosity of good friends. We have a letter typed up to send out to other churches who might be interested in partnering with us in this. Hopefully we will be able to get that sent out soon. If you know of a church in the area who might be interested in this, get in touch with us!
I think that's it for now. Maybe by tomorrow the fog in my mind will have lifted and I'll be able to put together a real post!
My last post was about us reaching out to the community. We feel like that is SO central to being a Christian and in the past couple of days, I have had opposite experiences with the way that fellow Christians live out the Love of Jesus. On one hand, there is a church that is just starting out and has few members. Yet this church is always ready to help out however they can. I have been witnessing them come alongside a family that is struggling with big bills due to illness and lift them up...financially, in prayer, and in any way they can. They are living out the Love that they have come to know in Jesus. On the other hand, there is an "established" church where the Love is hard to find. They have become comfortable and they enjoy it...the people outside of those walls are outside of their comfort zone.
Our pastor told a story this morning about a church in Kentucky that was one of those established churches where the same families had been in the church for years. This particular church is located next to a trailer park. A new pastor decided to reach outside of their walls and minister to the people in that trailer park...there was a huge revival. The church became the fastest growing church in their conference. Amazing what a little love will do. But the long time members of the church didn't like the revival...they wanted to know if "those people" were going to share "their" bathrooms! How ridiculous is that? And yet all around I see people who aren't reaching out. I don't think the Love that we have experienced was meant to be kept within the walls of a church building.
Another pastor I heard recently was talking about this as well and saying that he believes that if people aren't reaching out and sharing that Love then they don't truly understand how much God loves them. When you have been loved by God then you cannot help but pass it on to others. And yes, there is a time when you need to love on fellow Christians, but you have to remember that if they know Love like God loves then they have the fullness of Christ (which is fullness of Love because God IS Love) and so they aren't the ones who are needing that love the most.
The area where we live is so lacking in Love. It isn't uncommon to see children without proper clothing or shoes, teenagers whose self worth has been crushed by the poverty that surrounds them, adults whose eyes hold no hope, no joy, no love. Some of this is caused by lack of financial resources and yet whose problem is that? Theirs? The governments? Ours? Maybe by now I have stepped on some toes, but this is so important. Can you imagine if all Christians were filled with the Love of Jesus and let it spill out onto everyone they came in contact with?! That is the kind of world I want to live in. A world where IT ISN'T ABOUT ME! How can we walk through a store side by side with someone we don't know, look into their eyes and see their desperation, and not do anything about it?
I'll leave you with a few scripture references to look up. These talk mostly about helping the poor because that is a lot of what the ministry we are heading up with deal with, but I would encourage you that there are certainly people who have plenty of money who also need that kind of Love...widows, the elderly, those dealing with depression, cancer patients...the list is nearly endless. If you have Love hidden in your heart, take it out and share it-I promise you aren't going to run out!
1 John 3:17
Just when I thought that I had completely absorbed just how great homeschooling is for our family, I think of another reason or two why that is. You may remember that on Friday, we were doing a review day of writing. This consisted of the letters A,L,M,N,S,T, and U and the numbers 1-7. It did not go well. Writing is definitely not Alex's strong point...and I really don't think that practice is going to change that. That being said, he does eventually need to learn to write so that other people can know what it is. So, we practice. We noticed one thing consistently notice with Alex is that he writes all of his letters and numbers backward. Not just facing the wrong direction-he writes them started on the bottom right and working toward the top left which as we all know is opposite of pretty much every character. But, we were just so thankful that we knew that. If he attended public school, we would only see the papers coming home and that he can't write well. We would never have known why that is and so in turn we would never have been able to work with him to correct it. His teacher also would probably not know why his writing skills weren't great because he or she would have another 20 or so students to keep track of as well.
The second benefit is time flexibility. In our state, we aren't required to complete a certain number of days or hours for our curriculum. So we are able to shuffle our days around, combining two light work days or dividing a difficult day. We are at Dan's parents' house now because his dad is in the hospital and not doing well. We are so thankful that we don't have to rush home so that Alex doesn't miss days of school. We will probably be working on some Saturdays but we are able to spend this trying time with family.
Tomorrow some time we are heading home and we are looking forward to it and we are also a little sad because we treasure the time we are able to spend with our parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. and they seem to come too infrequently. Until next time...
I just got an email from a friend that reminded me that I haven't updated everyone on what has been going on in our homeschool in a while. Well, tomorrow we are finishing up our unit for the letter "Uu". We were learning about the five senses under the Biblical concept of "God made us WONDERFUL!" and the number 7. Today was the sense of sight and we had fun trying to draw a man blindfolded. Alex thought it was hysterical when he took off the blindfold and saw his "crazy man" and then he got to draw a man while being able to see. He and Elizabeth have both been wanting to sing "Oh be careful little eyes what you see" all day...not a bad thing. So, tomorrow is the last day for that unit. Then Friday we are going to do a writing review day to go over all of the things that we have covered so far this year. Then Monday we will start our unit for "Dd Dinosaur". I am really looking forward to that one. I already have next week all planned out so I have looked ahead to all of the fun things we are going to be doing! Yesterday was a homeschool group day and it was even better than the first time we went, I think mainly because we were all a little more prepared for what was going to happen and more relaxed. No official field trip for this month, but I think that is okay because we have lots of things going on as a family.
Dan is going to be moving back to working daylight in November. I am SO excited about that. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of talking to come to this decision, but I think it was the right one. He is actually going down the company ladder, I guess. Thankfully, the pay cut isn't a lot. I know some may think that wasn't a good idea or even just plain crazy. But sometimes you have to do things that are the best for your family even if no one else agrees and this was one of those times. The down side is that since we are down to one car, things like the homeschool group may not happen for a while until Dan can get his truck on the road. The other issue is that we will only be able to be in church every third Sunday. We may try to find a Sunday evening service somewhere. I don't know for sure...maybe we will just worship at home the Sundays we can't make it to church.
I think those are all the major areas of news for us right now. If there is anything I missed, be sure to let me know. Good night and God Bless!
Friday afternoon we discovered a tiny little tooth poking up through Aaron's gums! We were so excited and thought that this just may solve the issue of him never sleeping. Unfortunately, that was not the case and he still despises sleep the same as always. He doesn't seem to care at all that he is growing up while Dan and I are finding joy in each little milestone. He also says "Dada" now although I don't think he has any idea what it means or that it thrills his daddy so much. He is just content to hear himself talk. This was the first Sunday that he would have been allowed to be left in the nursery at church, but I just couldn't do it. I want to treasure every minute of being little and I know how quickly that time passes. We have also been keeping Elizabeth in church with us and that has been working out really well.
The Springs Folk Festival was a lot of fun yesterday. I think Alex learned quite a bit hanging out with my dad while he was asking questions of all the artists and demonstrators. Several people thought Alex was my dad's son so I think that made "Grampy" feel good. We saw so many skills demonstrated that just are lost in this age. Such a shame! And yet people seem to long for those old time days. People were lined up for a long time just waiting to buy homemade bread or apple butter or cider or honey. It's such a novel idea now to have these fresh things and while those of us who make those types of things would definitely agree that they are an art form, it seems unatainable to the majority of the population. I wonder what they spend their time on. What goals are they pursuing? What is important now? Each week in church we sit behind the same lady and today I was talking about how Elizabeth recently asked me why I don't go to work. The lady said that she didn't blame me for staying home because they grow up so fast. I then said that if I worked I wouldn't have time to do all the things that I love...like homeschool my little ones. Her eyes seemed to fill with an amazement. That wasn't the response I was expecting and it was kind of surprising to me, but I guess we just aren't the mainstream!
On a side note...I rediscovered the joy of my sewing machine this weekend. I made two dresses for Elizabeth and now I am part way through making her a nice, long, modest flannel nightgown. That's one way to make sure that her clothing is appropriate! I have always been scared to figure out patterns and I definitely still have a long way to go, but it has been a ton of fun and a whole lot easier than I thought it would be!
Over the past few days, there have been a lot of times that I have thought of things I wanted to write about and it just never happened so I am going to try to do a quick, condensed version of it all. First, I am so excited about the baked apples I made last night. We usually do them the "normal" way but this time I decided to slice them...It was SO good! They got done well, there was no leftover parts of the core, and the syrup was thick and wonderful on top. Try it! You might not be as excited as I am, but you will probably like it.
I also just needed to say what a blessing good friends are. There have been times that we have felt totally alone and then there are other times when other Christians come along side us and it makes all the difference. Tuesday was one of those days. Our dear, precious friends came to help us with firewood. They are our "supplier" and so they brought out a dump truck load of firewood cut, split, and ready to put away. On top of that, their four oldest boys (with some help from son #5) helped the men put it ALL away in about an hour. Then, they helped us cut up a dumptruck load of slab wood and split most of it for kindling! It was a ton of work and they just did it without so much as a complaint. It meant so much to us to see people willing to help other people. We want our family to be about that type of service, too, and this family has been wonderful to watch and learn from.
It's raining here and it has been so good. Sleeping has been easy (even for Mister Aaron) with the soothing sound of the rain falling outside our windows. It makes the world slow down a little bit and we are so thanklful for it. I think tomorrow it is supposed to clear up and we will be glad for the sunny skies, then, but for now the clouds don't even feel heavy. They are just what we have been needing.
On Saturday we are going to the Springs Festival and if you live in the area and don't have anything to do that day, I would encourage you to go. Especially if you have children or are interested in history. We learn a lot from it and it is so fun! I think there is a website, but you'll just have to Google it.
Now, I am off to start school...a little later than I would like but we are all moving slowly now. We are currently working on our "Uu" unit and Alex is of course enjoying it immensely. A few days ago we started working on reading single sylable words. Watching a child learn to read makes it all so worth it!
It's officially been fall for a few days, but it's just now starting to cool off...I am so thankful for that! Along with the change of seasons, you will have noticed a change in our web site. Do you like the new photos? Hopefully soon it will be cool enough to take pictures of the children playing outside in (gasp!) sweatshirts! A girl can dream, anyway. Yesterday we were able to spend the day with my parents and grandparents at a Ft. Frederick. It brings back so many memories to be there! Not just for me, either. My grandparents camped there during my dad's growing up years and then Dad and Mom took us when we were little. Now, my own children are experiencing the joy of camping there! It's so pretty and so peaceful...set back away from the road. The only major noise (apart from our live noisemakers) is the train and I love that sound, although I suppose it might bother some people. It was a perfect day. The laundry waited along with the dishes and I am catching up on them today. If you have been reading this, then you know that my constant battle is between doing all the "stuff" that needs to be done, and doing the important things. I'm learning slowly the balance. This week actually looks kind of calm! That is such a blessing. We are all running on empty and this will be a great chance to recharge ourselves. Of course, we'll be busy with firewood and getting things ready for winter, but it will be at HOME...such a wonderful word! I hope that you all are enjoying the cooling weather, too. Enjoy your week...and join me in remembering that hugs and kisses are more important than laundry and dishes!
Today Aaron turned 6 months old...Where has the last half a year gone?! He is growing up so quickly! Right now we are working hard on sitting up. He is so unique. I think after you have one baby, you kind of assume that all your little ones will be like that first one was. Alex was my laid back baby. So easy! He just loved to be snuggled and that was fine by me because I really didn't have too much else to do. He didn't really "talk" a lot, but he was all in to going places on his own. He started crawling at four months old, but he took quite a while to sit up, too...till about 7 months. Then came Elizabeth who loved to talk and was and is little Miss Independent. She wants to grow up as fast as possible. She didn't mind being set down to play by herself at all. Now here we have Aaron who is a combination of the other two. He likes to make noise...unfortunately a lot of the time he is crying because he seems to have some tummy issues. When he is able to poop regularly, though, he knows how to make lots of happy sounds, too! He doesn't really have any interest yet in motivating by himself. He just likes to be held all the time. That can be frustrating to a busy Mama and Daddy, but he is only going to be our little baby for a while, so we try to treasure it. He is probably our most sensitive baby so far, too. He knows exactly how you are feeling and if you are frustrated or upset then he is impossible to calm down. You can only pat his bottom gently or he thinks you are mad at him. Silly little man! With every baby I think that this is the fullest my heart could possibly be. Really, that's true. Right now, the children I have completely fill my heart. There is nothing missing. But God does an amazing thing when another baby comes along and He somehow expands my heart and then that little one fills up that space that I never knew was empty!
Today we also had a very productive day...Lots of cooking and baking, a day and a half worth of school, and a trip to town all before dinner time. I even managed to do some laundry, although the clean things didn't get put away yet. I am beginning to think that our washing machine is eating washcloths and hand towels. How can a family of five go through them so fast?!
Tomorrow I am planning on getting around to all that laundry waiting to be put away and finishing up all of this week's laundry to be washed so that we can enjoy the weekend without having to worry about it too much. Also, today I made homemade chocolate chunks and dried some blueberries to add to skillet granola so I'm going to get all of that put together for a yummy snack for this weekend. I should be able to get that done while we do school. Then maybe-just maybe-I ought to sit down and just chill for a little while. I think my kids would love to play a game without hurrying to finish our chores...maybe I'll move that to the top of my list of priorities!
Today was our farm field trip with the homeschool group. Like I was told they would, the kids had a great time...even Aaron who was just thrilled to be outside for so many hours in a row! There was a lot to do-animals to see, a playground to play on, a corn maze to explore, a picnic lunch to eat, pumpkins to paint, and lots of "strange" farm objects to find in a scavenger hunt. A busy day, for sure. We only got slightly lost finding the place and still managed to be on time, thankfully. I was worried all last night that I would get lost or be late or something. I ventured out without Dan, but with the help of a girl friend and her hubby's trusty GPS, which like I said only got us slightly lost. I was tempted to stay home. We have been running non-stop for a week straight and I could tell by the way everyone was acting. But I am so thankful that we did go. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Tomorrow we are going to get back into the homeschooling groove...it's about time. Also on the agenda is baking day. We are almost totally out of bread and we are completely out of rolls and tortillas. I have been making all of my own bread products for a while now and I don't see us going back to store bought any time soon. One of our favorite lunches is a homemade tortilla with pizza sauce and cheese and some pepperoni microwaved and folded in half. The kids love it because it is pizza. I love it because it's easy and I know what's in it.
On another happy note...Daniel found his cell phone! Well, technically, I found it. It was in the bottom of the diaper bag all this time (about 3 weeks). Who knew? I guess that shows you how often I clean that out. So Dan is now fully reachable! Yay!
I came across the lyrics to this song recently and I wanted to share it with everyone. It says it all.
Plenty of Time
Words and Music by Clay McLeon. Arr. by Henry Slaughter.
I got up on Sunday morning, went to church at ten.
I listened to the words that I'd heard time and time again.
The preacher spoke of sinful lives, it seemed he spoke of mine,
But I was young; I had plenty of time.
I walked on down life's pathway, living as I wished to live.
Out to beat the other fellow, out to get what life could give.
Making money is not sinful, having fun is not a crime.
So I'll just wait; I've got plenty of time.
Plenty of time to decide where I'm bound,
to eternal darkness or a heavenly crown.
I'm just a young man, not yet in my prime.
So I'll just wait; I've got plenty of time.
Before I knew what happened, life's scenes had passed away.
Millions stood before God's throne, for it was judgement day.
Now eternal darkness beckons, and the name it calls is mine.
But I thought I had plenty of time.
Eternity waits. I've got plenty of time
to think of all the days Christ could have been mine.
My chance is now over. Earth's days are left behind.
And here I am, I've got plenty of time.
Now I've got nothing but plenty of time.
Isn't that good?
And now I'm off to get the last of my littles settled into bed. Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to a farm. Alex and Elizabeth are looking forward to it...Should be fun!
"I must be crazy." That is what I was thinking today. "I have officially become one of those crazy stereotypical Ms. Frizzle from the Magic Schoolbus type homeschool moms." What prompted this amazing epiphany? Ants. Not just any ants, but ants I PAID for and that have joyfully (except maybe for the few that didn't survive the first hour) taken up residency on a shelf in our...KITCHEN! Don't I try to keep ants out of my kitchen? And now I am sending them welcome home cards...essentially. If nothing else, I have strict written instructions to give them two drops of water and one small bit of food every three days and of course to protect them from the life threatening condensation that could form within their happy ant home. When I signed up for homeschooling, I don't think I thought ahead to putting ants in my refrigerator to calm them before transferring them (quickly) into the ant hill. Oh the things we do in the name of education for these precious children! Thankfully, the paperwork says that our humongous Harvester Ants should only live 2-4 weeks!
A quick update on what is going on in our home...
In school we just finished up our letter Nn unit, which also included animal habitats, the number 5, and the concept of "God takes good care of me". We are taking the next few days off to visit Dan's Dad in the hospital and then the beginning of next week we have some other educational activities planned, so our unit for the letter Tt will begin next Wednesday. Alex is thoroughly enjoying his school and Elizabeth is, too, and probably learning just about everything that Alex is (that should make it pretty easy when she starts school in 3 years). Alex does say that he thinks we should skip the units for the letters he already knows "enough" about. That way he can be out of kindergarten sooner.
Like I said, Elizabeth is following along with everything her big brother is doing. She has also taken on the role of little mommy and helps with diaper changes, occupying little Aaron, and even picking out his clothing. She also loves to make sure that if she and Alex are playing with one of their sets that Aaron gets a piece to play with too. So generous and yet it can be so dangerous if Legos are the pick of the day!
Aaron is growing and changing all the time. Daddy is trying to convince him to crawl, but that belly is just too big to get up off the floor! He prefers to roll wherever he wants to go and is getting really good at it. He is still working on sitting sturdily...he prefers to lean in to his feet when he is sitting. He has also started on some table food and so far peas are the food of choice! It's hard to believe that he is almost 6 months old...where did that time go?
Daddy and I are both doing well...running on little sleep, chasing little gifts 24 hours a day and thanking God that we were chosen for this wonderfully crazy life!
Tomorrow we are going to attend a homeschool co-op in Cumberland. That is a big deal for us for several reasons. Probably the biggest reason is that this is something that I wasn't sure we would ever do. I never wanted to be one of those HOMEschoolers who spent most of my time away from HOME. I know where my place is and so I try to stay in it and be content in that. But, we have decided that it is really time to see if there are other crazy people in the area living like we are. We know that a lot of what we do is personal conviction, but at the same time we know that God convicts many people of the same things. So maybe just maybe there are others out there to whom we may be able to really relate. I suppose that is why the title of Great Expectations is so fitting for the way I am feeling tonight. I am erring on the side of caution, because so far we haven't met a single person locally who we felt like totally understood our position in life...or even kind of understood it. We have felt so alone and so we are seeking friends. Maybe not so much for us grown ups. But I watch Alex among other children and he seems so out of place at times. And then we get home and he has so many questions about why other children do certain things or say certain things that he knows he shouldn't be doing or saying. I would love for him to have a few friends that he felt completely comfortable with. At the moment, he is blessed with a best friend, but his family will soon be moving on and so once again, he will be lonely. I am praying for encouragement from another homeschool mom. Oh, how we would love for someone to come along side us and say, "You know, we get it. You are doing a good job. We are praying for your family." I suppose we shall see what tomorrow will bring.
I have so much that I want to tell all of you. The past few days have been packed FULL! Dan and Alex were able to enjoy the Kutless concert in Accident on Monday night. Alex was so thrilled and has been talking about it ever since. I am planning on uploading the few photos that Dan took of that night soon. Tonight I am also posting the photos from Aaron's Dedication Day and maybe some of a few other things in the near future. So many memories and so little time. We were blessed to be able to spend Tuesday night with Dan's parents. We did discover that we are REALLY not missing anything by not having broadcast TV in our home. There was so much trash on even the supposedly safe channels and it just sucks you in. The time spent visiting with our families was precious, though. We were also able to catch up with my mom and dad and spent this morning with Dan's grandma and his cousin (in from Italy) and her baby boy, Gabriel...Such a CUTIE! The main reason for this trip to PA, though, was as a field trip for Alex as we wrapped up his homeschool unit on the letter "A". He loves visiting Grammy at the Apple House and so of course this was no exception. Elizabeth enjoyed it, too, even if she did announce that she didn't want to go to the apple house...she wanted to go to a cheese house! Silly girl! Can you guess what one of her favorite foods is? We also have lots of activities to do with apples in the next few days when we have extra time. So what is next on the homeschool agenda? Unit 5 is the letter "N", number 5, Nests and animal habitats and the Bible Concept is God Takes Care of Me. One fun thing we are doing with this unit is setting up an ant hill...well, maybe not so much fun for Mama, but definitely fun for Alex. Dan would be upset with me if I didn't mention that today was (in his words) the most important day of his life. No, it's not our anniversary, my birthday, or the date of his salvation. Nope...Nothing like that. Can't guess what happened today? He brought home the truck we have been working toward buying from my mom! (you WOULD consider that THE most important thing, wouldn't you?) Between my mom's generosity in cutting us such a break on the price of the truck and the generosity of our friend, Paul, who has offered to pay to have it road ready before winter, we have been so overwhelmed. We feel so undeserving, and yet we are thankful that God has placed a burden on these people's hearts to help us. God really does take care of me! Kind of a fitting theme for this stage in our lives. We are so blessed! I hope that you are feeling blessed tonight, too. We love you all!
Oh and as a side note...Aaron's eyes have officially become green! Maybe I'll have one little one who will look a little like me?
At times it has seemed nearly impossible to get through to our kids things that we want them to understand. It has been especially difficult with Alex...well, probably only because he is the only child old enough for us to expect to understand. At any rate, Daniel had a breakthrough with him last night. He has been trying to explain to him how when he chooses to do something that he knows is wrong, he is allowing Satan into his life. This was somehow eluding Alex, so Dan decided that maybe he had just been explaining it wrong all along. After a particularly difficult bedtime, Dan sat down in the dark in the boys' room with Alex and tried once again. He told him how there were two teams in this world...the good guys and the bad guys. Jesus' team was always the good guys and Satan was captain of the bad guys. He then proceded to compare Alex's behavior to a football game (don't ask me all the technical terms, because I would most likely get them wrong). I had been busy while all of this was going on, but caught just the end of the conversation as Alex was yelling, "No! Satan ain't gonna be in my house!" He was all fired up and remembered their conversation all day today. While we were spending our time outside after lunch, he decided to tell me all about it. "Have I been scoring points for Jesus and the Good Guys today?" he asked. The great thing was, he really had. He had been better behaved than he had in weeks! Then he told me he needed to go talk to Jesus for a while. He sat out on the swingset and talked to Jesus for about five minutes and explained to him that Satan was the bad guy and that Alex wasn't going to score any points for him, but he was on the same team as Jesus. Of course, we still have things to work on, since he also told Jesus that his daddy had lied to him because he had said Jesus had gone to heaven and Alex was sure that he had gone back home and not to heaven. He also made sure Jesus knew that he didn't fully understand just where Satan lived. He so sincerely made a point of saying, "Jesus, I just love you so much," several times. My little man is growing up! Evenings are usually his hardest time, but even that was so sweet today. At the grocery store, he wanted some convenience food that we had already told him no about and he was beginning to whine. I told him that Satan wants him to be disobedient to Mommy and Daddy and if he acted like that, then he was helping Satan. You know what he said? Just okay and quieted down! Something like that often has the potential to become a major battle, but not tonight. At dinner, he started to pitch a fit over eating his veggies and all Dan had to say was, "Hold the ball a little tighter, Buddy. I don't want you to fumble it!" Of course, as a mama who doesn't really care about sports, this analogy would have never occured to me, but I am so thankful for Daddies who know how to reach their little men! Today was definitely a touchdown day for Alex!
We dedicated Aaron on Sunday and I wanted to post the prayer that was prayed over him. (Photos of the Dedication to come) We are so thankful for the faithful friends and family who are there to help us as we strive to raise our children in the fear of the Lord. If you weren't at the dedication service and would like to come alongside us as we train Aaron up, we invite you to pray the following prayer...
Holy Father God,
We join our faith in prayer today for Aaron James Leonard! He is your beloved creation Lord and we are so excited to see what You are going to do in and through his life.
It's our petition that You would bless Aaron. Walk with him Lord and teach him Your ways. Bless him with a deep sensitivity to Your Spirit and a deep desire to please You. We believe that this day-Aaron's Dedication Day-is so significant! May it be a time of preparation for him and a day of honest commitment from us-his church. We ask You for Your Spirit to prepare Aaron for the day he will accept You for himself Lord Jesus.
Bless Aaron's life with great joy. Grace his life witha deep intimacy with You Holy Father. Give him a great understanding of Your heart and Word. Impart Your wisdom and truth in his soul. Bless him with true friends and great mentors in the faith. Let his life truly be remarkable in You!
Thank you Lord for this child, and thank You for his parents. Thank You for the gift of life and all that we can learn through the faith of children. You are so good. We love You Lord.
In Jesus Name. Amen.
We believe that a dedication day is an important thing for a child and for us as parents. We are taking the time to acknowledge that we cannot do it alone and that a child is only ours for a little while to raise, but his soul is forever. What an awesome responsibility!